No travel limits for pensioners, says union

29 May 2009

Keith Norman, ASLEF’s general secretary, has written to Keith Ludeman, the chief executive of the Go-Ahead Group, challenging the businessman’s call to limit free travel schemes for pensioners. Mr Ludeman said pensioners should not be given a ‘blank cheque’ for travel and some companies are reportedly considering cutting routes used by the elderly to discourage them from travelling.

 

Keith Norman asked for Mr Ludeman’s comments on three specific points

  • ASLEF believes all pensioners – often the most vulnerable people in society - should be entitled to free bus transport. To cancel or reduce the scheme could make fares even for essential travel inaccessible to pensioners and, by reducing their mobility, further isolate the elderly from the rest of society.
  • the Go-Ahead Group made £64.6 million profit from transport in the second half of 2008, so ASLEF finds it astonishing that anyone from the company could suggest depriving pensioners of free bus travel. It is a fact that 2.5 million retired people live below the poverty line.
  • ‘Help the Aged’ declare that one in eight elderly people describe themselves as ‘isolated and lonely’. Restricting their access to transport and overall mobility would only increase this.

 

Mr Ludeman has now responded, saying that he has ‘in no case’ ever recommended that the scheme should be cancelled adding, ‘We support the Bus Concessionary Fare Scheme but it must be funded properly.

 

‘The decision about funding rests correctly with Government.’

 

Mr Ludeman says, ‘I am sure you are aware of the many concerns raised on this point by local authorities who claim that without full and proper funding this gives rise to the reduction of either other Council budgets, increased Council Taxes, and lower reimbursement rates for buses or all three. This will of course have an import on all Council tax payers including the over 60s.’

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